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Optimizing strategic behaviour in a dynamic setting in professional team sports

Dobson, Stephen; Goddard, John


Stephen Dobson

John Goddard


This article develops a dynamic game-theoretic model of optimizing strategic behaviour by football (soccer) teams. Teams choose between defensive and attacking formations and between a non-violent and a violent playing style, and can vary these choices continuously throughout each match. Starting from the end of the match and working backwards, the teams' optimal strategies conditional on the current state of the match are determined by solving a series of two-player non-cooperative subgames. Numerical simulations are used to explore the sensitivity of strategic behaviour to variations in the structural parameters. The analysis demonstrates that the strategic behaviour of football teams can be rationalized in accordance with game-theoretic principles of optimizing strategic behaviour by agents when payoffs are uncertain and interdependent.


Dobson, S., & Goddard, J. (2010). Optimizing strategic behaviour in a dynamic setting in professional team sports. European journal of operational research, 205(3), 661-669.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 18, 2010
Online Publication Date Jan 22, 2010
Publication Date Sep 16, 2010
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal European Journal Of Operational Research
Print ISSN 0377-2217
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 205
Issue 3
Pages 661-669
Keywords Economics; Game theory; Sport (Football)
Public URL